UK failing on organic food and farming claim

A new report has claimed the government is not doing enough to support and promote organic food and farming.

The Soil Association said sales continued to grow in other European nations during the recession, while UK sales fell by 13.6% in 2009. The findings were published at the launch of the Association’s annual conference in Manchester.

Peter Melchett, policy director for the Soil Association, described the fall in sales, after years of continuous growth, as “really frustrating”.

He added: “The Coalition government has pledged ‘to be the greenest government ever’ and the new Agriculture Minister Jim Paice said recently that organic principles lead the way on sustainable farming, and that organic farming should be fostered for this reason.

“The results of our investigation provide a blueprint for the new government to live up to its pledge, and to move the UK from the bottom of the European league table when it comes to backing organic.”

The report, The Lazy Man of Europe, said that once consumers had accurate information about organic farming and food, then they increased their purchases of such goods.

It recommended a number of actions for the government to take, which included:

* welcoming the organic market as an important growth area for the nation’s economy
* introduction of a cross-departmental food strategy that recognises the role of organic farming
* re-establishment of a dedicated research budget to address problems faced by the organic sector
* matching industry funding to promote organic food and farming.

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